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In a mess hall at an American outpost in Iraq, a television broadcasts images of Washington streets lined with hoards of people who’ve come to celebrate a new president.
The pre-inauguration buzz, however, is far more muted among soldiers in Iraq’s rural Diyala province.
For troops fighting one of the two wars inherited by Obama the inauguration was, in many regards, just another day.
“Holidays like Christmas or the inauguration just tend to kind of go by here without seeming much different than any other day,” said one soldier. Military personnel are not authorized to share their personal views on politics or the president.
Regardless of their political beliefs, many soldiers here say they are following the news about Obama’s inauguration because, after all, he’s their senior-most boss.
Their lives will be affected not just by how the new president handles Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama has the potential to touch their lives into retirement with policies for veterans’ benefits and other military programs.
“It seems like his policies should support us, so I’m not too worried,” said one soldier. Like most servicemen, he says that all there is to do now is wait and see how the Obama presidency unfolds. “Hopefully he can live up to the hype,” he says.